Two of the NBA's most prominent owners have started a little bit of a feud.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban have exchanged some words in the past few days. The war of words surrounds Nets star player Deron Williams.
The point guard will be a free agent in the summer, and his two most likely destinations seem to be New Jersey and Dallas. Williams has expressed his desire to stay with the Nets, but many people feel the Mavericks have the best shot to sign him. Dallas has cleared cap space to be a player in free agency at the end of the season, and Williams grew up in Texas.
Prokhorov met with the media Tuesday, and was asked about the possibility of Williams signing a long-term deal with the Nets.
For the time being, it's top secret for us, said Prokhorov. I think we have a very good discussion.
The Nets owner said he recently met with Williams, and is confident that New Jersey has a good chance of keeping him once the season is over.
I think he wants to win and he wants to be part of a great franchise, Prokhorov said. We have the same view on this.
The Nets have an advantage over any other team in negotiating with Williams. New Jersey can offer Williams close to $30 million more than the other 29 NBA teams. It'd be hard for the point guard to walk away from that kind of money, but the opportunity to play for a contender in his hometown might be enough to draw him away.
The Nets were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday. The Mavericks won the title last season.
Prokhorov is well aware that Cuban could steal away his best player. The Nets owner says he welcomes the challenge.
Let the best man win, Prokhorov said jokingly. If he wins, I will crush him in a kickboxing throwdown.
Hearing this, Cuban felt the need to let Prokhorov know he has a history of winning fights.
He obviously didn't see me be the first in WWE history to put Sheamus on the mat, Cuban told Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. He knows not what he gets himself into.
In 2009, Cuban appeared on Monday Night Raw and wrestled WWE star Sheamus.
Many people have felt that Williams would only stay with the Nets if they acquired Dwight Howard. It appears that Howard will stay in Orlando at least for the next year, making the Mavericks a major player for Williams.
Prokhorov stood by his claim that the Nets would win a championship by 2015. If he's unable to re-sign Williams, that goal will be very hard to reach.